, February 2014
Sets of the complete Brahms symphonies on DVD are not all that common, so this one featuring the Dresden Staatskapelle with Christian Thielemann is indeed a welcome arrival.
From the moment [Thielemann] raises his baton to a most appreciative Japanese audience in the Symphony No 1, it’s clear to everyone that this music holds a special place for both him and his orchestra. The ensemble invokes a deeply romantic spirit throughout, from the tempestuous opening movement to the jubilant finale.
In contrast to the tragically noble character of Brahms’ First Symphony, the Second is all placid geniality, so much so that it has been often referred to as his “Pastoral.” Recorded in the Semperoper in Dresden…the orchestra demonstrates a keen clarity and finely judged balance.
One of the high points for me in the set (and there are many) is the famous third movement of Symphony No 3. For this poignant and wistful music, Thielemann coaxes a luxuriant sound from the players, the mellow brass perfectly complementing the warmth of the strings—and principal horn Erich Markwart deserves kudos for his hauntingly lovely solo.
Special mention must also be made of the exemplary camerawork in both venues. The shots of both Thielemann and members of the orchestra provide a live presence and further enhance these superb performances. It’s been said that Thielemann has the ability to make familiar repertoire sound new again and he certainly succeeds in doing so here. This set is a must-have for any serious music lover, a sublime combination of wonderful music magnificently performed. Highly recommended. © 2014 The WholeNote Read complete review